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Belgium claim 3rd spot at World Cup 2018, beat England 2-0

Updated July 14, 2018

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Belgium players and team staff pose for a team picture after defeating England in the third place match at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium. —AP
Belgium players and team staff pose for a team picture after defeating England in the third place match at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium. —AP
Belgium's Eden Hazard scores his side's second goal during the third place match against England. —AP
Belgium's Eden Hazard scores his side's second goal during the third place match against England. —AP

Belgium earned its highest World Cup finish on Saturday by beating England 2-0 in the third-place match. Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored a goal each for the Belgians, who lost to France in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Both teams were playing for the seventh time in 26 days, but Belgium entered the match with an extra day of rest.

Meunier scored in the fourth minute, knocking a cross from Nacer Chadli past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Hazard added the other off a pass from Kevin De Bruyne in the 82nd.

Toby Alderweireld denied England's best chance of the game, sliding on the goal line to clear a shot from Eric Dier.

England, which lost to Croatia in the semifinals on Wednesday, matched its best World Cup result fourth in 1990 since winning the tournament for the only time in 1966.

Belgium's Thomas Meunier celebrates after scoring the opening goal. —AP
Belgium's Thomas Meunier celebrates after scoring the opening goal. —AP

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Belgium's previous best finish at the World Cup was fourth, but the team outplayed England in the midfield to go one better this time.

The Belgians could easily have scored more, with Pickford making a good save to stop a shot from De Bruyne in the 11th and Alderweireld volleying narrowly over the bar in the 35th.

England made set pieces the cornerstone of its run to the World Cup semifinals and created chances for Harry Maguire and Dier in the second half. Neither hit the target with their headers.

It was the second time England and Belgium met in this year's tournament. In the group stage, both teams had already qualified before Belgium's 1-0 win in Kaliningrad.

Fresh Legs

England coach Gareth Southgate made five changes to face Belgium, but Danny Rose and Fabian Delph made little impact while Dier started slowly but threatened in the second half.

Phil Jones failed to intercept the pass which led to Hazard's goal.

The two replacements in Belgium's lineup were more effective. Meunier scored and Youri Tielemans dominated the midfield.

Golden Boot

England forward Harry Kane is still placed to win the Golden Boot with a tournament-leading six goals ahead of Sunday's final.

Kane last scored in England's win over Colombia in the round of 16. On Saturday, he slipped as he shot wide in the first half, then failed to make contact with Jesse Lingard's cross early in the second.

Romelu Lukaku couldn't add to his four goals for Belgium and was substituted shortly after misjudging a through ball by De Bruyne.